Vertigo Theatre’s ‘Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B’ is a welcome twist on classic characters.

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Since Sherlock Holmes has become public domain, there is now space for interpretations and adaptations. Enter Kate Hamill’s Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B. This version of Sherlock is a Canadian premiere at Vertigo Theatre. It’s a whirlwind production that is just as playful as it is confusing. The logic of the mystery remains a mystery when everything is wrapped up, but that seems to be the nature of all things Sherlock Holmes. Julie Orton and Tahirih Vejdani play Sherlock and Watson respectively and they are both bigger than life in these roles. This play also introduces the audience to Inspector Lestrade (Graham Percy) and Irene Adler (Camille Pavlenko). There is much to fit in and it’s all hard to follow, so most audiences should sit back and relax and take in these iconic characters with a definite twist.

Kathryn Smith’s direction allows Orton and Vejdani to sink into their roles and really get into their characters. Orton is a physical artist who leaps and jumps around the stage, adding that energy to her Holmes. The audience would be even more lost in the narrative if it weren’t for Vejdani, who expresses our collective confusion and puzzlement. Her affinity for nacho chips is a nice touch, as in the most chaotic of scenes, she’s munching on them and offering them to audience members. Pavlenko demonstrates her versatility both as Adler and Mrs. Hudson, the owner of the flat. Her Adler is a dangerous double crossing villain but has a certain charm about her. Percy plays multiple characters, including Lestrade, and his steady hand is needed in this storyline. This is Percy’s first appearance on Calgary stages this year and it’s nice to see his perfect blend of irony and comedy. He is the one who opens the play saying that Vertigo will get a lot of emails because Sherlock is a woman. This is unfortunately true, as subscribers don’t like it when you change the classics, but it’s time for change. And Orton is the perfect choice for this change.

Julia Kim’s set design is quite versatile and often has doors that the characters move and flip around. When there isn’t enough time to change the set drastically, Watson just makes the comment that it looks like their apartment. Jolane Houle’s costume design is customized to every character, bringing Adler and Mrs. Hudson to life. Lisa Floyd’s lighting design, along with Alixandra Cowman’s sound design and original composition, give this production it’s mysterious vibe and also creates the train that is critical to the narrative.

Don’t expect to follow the many mysteries. Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B is a bit of a long foray into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world, modified to be set in 2021 and modified to appeal to a broader audience. It is a joy to see Vejdani on stage. More of this is welcome from Vertigo Theatre, to keep the stories fresh and the telling current.

Vertigo Theatre’s Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B runs at Vertigo Theatre until June 9th. More information and tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: Tahirih Vejdani and Julie Orton – Fifth Wall Media

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